Things I Learned This Summer

Happy first day of fall! I have mixed feelings about this – I love fall, but we had a really good summer, so it’s hard to see it go!

I’ve been trying to get into the discipline of reflection at the end of each season, spending time looking back on what happened and what I learned.I’ve done it a couple of times in the past, and I really like the practice of it, because it make me more intentional, and it helps me to remember times of growth or discovery from each season.

I have tons of pictures to remember all the great times at the lake, but some of the little lessons learned might slip quietly by if I don’t take the time to pay attention. It doesn’t have to be deep, meaningful stuff, it can be the smallest things that somehow shift my attention or approach to life. Emily Freeman does this for each season, ad I always love reading her list, so here’s what I came up with for my summer:

1) Housework usually takes less time than I think it will.
There are some household tasks I avoid like crazy, because they feel so huge and daunting. But this summer, I tried setting a stop watch on my phone to find out exactly how long the dreaded chores took, and was surprised with the results. The chores were always quicker to do than I thought they’d be. The next time I’d need to tackle the same chore, I knew how much time it would take, and whether or not I could fit it into little pockets of time throughout the day. It has really helped me get more tasks done in a day.

2) I cannot grow brussel sprouts.
I’ve tried a couple of times now, and this is the year I give up! It’s time to stop wasting precious gardening space on something that is simply not working. It gave me a nice sense of freedom to admit it, and move on. There’s wisdom in knowing when to quit!

3) Clipboards make me feel official and productive.
I have an extremely long list of daily stretches, assigned by my physiotherapist and muscle therapist, and it’s hard to get it all done each day. I do them in chunks throughout the day, so I lose track of how far I’ve gotten, or I just run out of steam.This summer, I wrote out the whole list, stuck it in a page protector, and crossed each item off with a whiteboard marker as I went along. It worked very well, except the page was so flimsy, so it was a bit of a pain.

But when I found a clipboard, everything changed. It suddenly made me feel super official, and I got far more done because the whole thing was so visual and intentional.Now I’m trying to figure out what else can be given clipboard duty!😉

4) Settlers of Catan is still a fun game!

We haven’t played that game in years, but this summer, we played a bunch of games with our kids at the cabin and taught them how to play Settlers, and we all had so much fun!Because our kids are each five and a half years apart, it’s been tough to play games together that we can all enjoy.

But this summer, it finally worked! We changed the rules a bit for Everett, or he’d be on a team with Ben, but we figured out how to spend time together in this way, and it felt like such a fun new stage for our family!

5) Use a good pen and a junky notebook.

I’ve never understood my reluctance to use pretty notebooks, until I was reading the book Writing Down the Bones. The author says pretty notebooks make us feel like we have to write perfect, important thoughts. She suggests using a junky notebook so there’s freedom to write down whatever comes to mind, even the rough, ugly stuff.But she also says it’s very important to use a good pen. The ink needs to flow at the right speed, and feel good in the way it writes.

I tried it, and it’s totally true. But now I have this beautiful notebook Ben gave me for Christmas that I didn’t know what to do with it. And then I figured it out – I’ll use it for a gratitude journal, because that’s the one place where my written thoughts are always beautiful enough for a nice notebook! For all other journaling, junky notebook + nice pen!

6) This is the best book I have read in a long time:

Did you read Kisses From Katie? I loved her first book, but this one is even better. She writes about how to trust God even when your prayers don’t get answered the way you want them to, and how to have hope during times of suffering. Here’s one of my favorite quotes:

It is a brave thing to hope, to continue in hope, knowing that God might say yes but that He could say no, and choosing to praise Him anyway….I desire to enter fully into the joy He places before us and I desire to enter wholly into the suffering He places before us because both can be His gifts to us. Both can be made beautiful.

This summer was really wonderful, but there were some hard parts to it, as well. This book was such an amazing reminder to think about facing hard things with the peace and certainty that God will carry us through in the best way possible. And now, we move on to fall! I’m curious to see what new lessons this next season will hold!

What about you? Have you learned anything interesting or tried anything new lately?

Photo Shoot with Anika

I’ve been wanting to take pictures of Anika for her twelfth birthday, and when I told her it was the perfect day for it, she said, “It’s too cloudy!”

But that depends on what kind of photos you want. And I wanted classic fall – brown, wide open fields, overcast skies, dry grass. Perfect for my fall birthday girl.:)

Anika

Anika

railroad

Anika

railroadAnika

railroad

railroad

Let the Dead Leaves Drop

dead leavessource

This one’s been sticking with me lately….

As I’ve shared in the past, I’ve been going for counseling the last few months, to deal with the postpartum anxiety that crept up on me in spring. Time and again, when an issue comes up, whether it’s something painful from the past, a negative thought pattern, or a habit that’s not beneficial for me in any way, I want to understand WHY this is happening. What made me start hurting that way, thinking that way, forming that habit?

And always, my counselor says, “You don’t really need to understand why this is happening. You only need to recognize that it’s not serving you well, and let it go.”

It’s been hard for me, because I really like to understand why things are the way they are, and work the way they do. I love analyzing things, trying to understand the cause and effect. In some situations, I still believe this is helpful and healthy, but I’m starting to see that in other cases, it’s just a waste of time. My counselor is right – acknowledge it, and move on. Accept that it has been, but no longer needs to be.

Or more fitting for fall – let it drop like dead leaves.

leavesAmazing how there can be such beauty, even in dead leaves! We can enjoy the beauty of change, of dropping what’s no longer necessary, and making room for new growth. Fall has always seemed like a season of endings to me, but maybe it’s a lot more about preparing for new beginnings than I ever realized….

Can you think of anything you need to drop this fall?

Hello, Hello!

Well, after a summer of recovering from postpartum anxiety and a couple of rounds of mastitis, we were finally getting back to normal…and then school started.

I have met my match.

Homeschooling with three kids, one of whom is teething, is no small task. There are times when I think I might possibly be losing my mind, and then I need to remind myself why in the world I am doing this in the first place, and then we keep going.:)

Somewhere in among all of that, Everett turned nine months old. I wanted to take pictures of him, especially with his new little teeth poking through, but he’s been…how shall I put this delicately??….A total grouch. But with some beautiful bursts of his usual sunshiny sweetness. Poor little guy.

The only way he was happy was with his soother and a measuring cup:

EverettI tried and tried to capture those new little pearly whites, but he was having none of it. A few mornings later, this is the closest I got:

Everett and AnikaApparently teething is a private matter. Everett doesn’t share that kind of thing openly.

So he’ll keep figuring out the teething thing, and we’ll keep figuring out the fall schedule thing, and together, we will press on.

How has your September been going?

Weekend Favorites: Picking Apples

On Saturday, we made a spur-of-the-moment decision to drive out to my parents’ house to pick apples. Our girls didn’t think this would be any fun, but it didn’t take long for them to realize they were wrong – especially when Ben started throwing the apples down for them to catch in buckets!:)

picking apples

picking apples IMG_9874 IMG_9879 IMG_9867And now, let the applesauce-making begin! What did you do with your weekend?

Weekend Favorites

Another beautiful fall weekend!

A friend asked me if it felt as though fall has sped by incredibly quickly, and I have to say, it’s been the perfect length. It feels to me as though we’ve had many wonderful chances to soak in the beauty of September and October. I have loved the colours, and the cooler temperature makes the outdoors exhilarating, and the indoors cozy.

The geese are loving the lakes in our development, and the sky is often full of them flying and honking, getting ready for the big trip south.

Everything is feeling a bit wild and cool and crisp outside right now, and I’m loving it.

trees

We ran around in the backyard for a bit this weekend, playing with the leaves, and getting things ready for winter. Ben packed away our patio furniture, and the girls collected all the sand toys to bring inside. It was a nice feeling, somehow. We had a beautiful summer, and now I feel ready to move on to the next season.

Kaylia

Anika

leaves

pumpkin

branchesWhat are you loving about fall right now?